I see the next wave of eCommerce to bring together to electronic purchasing with collaborative social network capabilities in a platform site that bundles complimentary services and products into a virtual shopping mall.  Bundling services has performed very well for the leading and driving force in eCommerce, Amazon through not only products for the home apparel, electronics, streaming videos and music but also through leveraging the cloud services that allow them to provide a robust platform.  In order to survive, major retailers will need to embrace this concept of bundling with not only product offerings and services but also a consumer collaboration platform that encourages consumers to return to the site and engage with others in the site.  I refer to this as a virtual shopping mall that provides both a social outlet with the eCommerce purchasing outlet.

 

This virtual shopping mall will provide a reason for consumers to return over and over to engage with other consumers in a platform provided and supported by the retailer.  This is important for millennials because they are the generation that has really increased the utilization and the demands on the eCommerce and social networking services.  These demands are driving towards the creation of a true omni channel shopping and purchasing platform.  This true omni channel engagement will be a requirement for the success and long term viability of large scale retailers.  Small specialty retailers already engage the consumers and the really successful small specialty retailers create a community atmosphere in their stores that cross over to the eCommerce site.  They provide the blend of physical and virtual shopping experience that large retailers have a very difficult time creating.

 

Consumers are definitely demanding a multidimensional shopping experience that is displayed through their use of social networking tools such as Facebook, Pinterest, Yelp, YouTube and shopping support tools such as Groupon and Retail-me-not in combination with both physical and virtual shopping and purchases.  Large retailers have been focused on providing the consumer a means to purchase from multiple channels and they have not focused on truly blending the channels into a shopping capability.  Large retailers speak of supporting the consumer in purchasing any time and any place and now consumers have moved on and look for the ability to shop and congregate with friends and family in a shopping experience any time and any place. 

 

These are just the beginning of consumer demands and as the consumer’s sophistication and experimentation with technology grows there will be no opportunity for large retailers to continue down their current path and focus on purchasing.  Consumers have now reached a level of sophistication with technology and especially mobile technology where they are able to use the tools to develop their own collaboration and shopping capabilities.  The issue for retailers now is to embrace the demands of consumers to remain relevant and successful in the future.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?